China will host the third forum for its Belt and Road Initiative next week, marking the 10th anniversary of the massive international infrastructure project.
Adhering to its vision of building a community with a shared future for humanity, China has made great efforts to promote green and low-carbon development and the building of a clean world.
Over the past decade, under the Belt and Road Initiative, China has cooperated with more than 100 countries and regions on green energy projects, sharing its philosophy and solutions on sustainable development.
As the climate crisis has become more urgent than ever, we talked to Edgar E Gutierreze-Espeleta, former Minister of Environment and Energy for Costa Rica, to understand the significance of sustainable development and under the Belt and Road Initiative, how China can facilitate the international efforts in this regard.
SFC Markets and Finance: Professor, could you please introduce yourself?
Edgar E Gutierreze-Espeleta: I'm a Costa Rican. I was the Minister of Environment and Energy of Costa Rica from 2014 to 2018. Before being a minister, I was a professor at the University of Costa Rica doing research on sustainable development issues and the rehabilitation of degraded lands. That's my whole life.
SFC Markets and Finance: Today, our first question is about sustainable development. You said before that the development must be sustainable. Could you explain to us why?
Edgar E Gutierreze-Espeleta: Yes, it's very simple. We can not keep on using natural resources as we wish. They are finite. They have limits. And I'm going to give you an example of that. For example, you have a tree plantation. Once the trees grow, if you cut down the trees, then you have no trees left, right? But if you cut only a yield, an annual yield, but they grow until they get one point. The annual yield will cut the increment, then you will have a tree plantation forever.That's the whole concept of sustainable development. It is we have to realize that we are using natural resources that are finite. Therefore, we have to use them in such a way to secure that the next generations are going to enjoy at least the same things that we are enjoying now. For doing that, we have to realize that we have to limit ourselves in the use of those resources. That is why we say that development has to be sustainable, because we need to think about the next generations, not only our own generation.
SFC Markets and Finance: You mentioned the next generation. So human beings, as you said, are and should be the very center of development. Could you tell us what can we do to make sure of it, to make sure that human beings are the center?
Edgar E Gutierreze-Espeleta: Well, the only species on planet Earth that is able to destroy the planet is human. I mean, it's human beings. That is the only thing that we have to take care of. We are capable, as a species, to use the resources we have around us, to use them for our own benefit. That is why development has to be centered on humans. Nature doesn't need us. Nature, if we humans are not on the planet Earth, Nature is gonna continue its own dynamics. But we are the ones who are interfering in the dynamics of nature. Therefore, we need to be so wise that we need to understand those dynamics so that we can insert ourselves and benefit from nature without deteriorating the status of this nature. So that is why we talk about sustainable development which is centered on humans. It is because we have to think about humans. As I said, Nature doesn't need us. Sometimes, someone could criticize this, saying the world is very anthropocentric, this sort of view of development. I mean, we are living in a society. For example, I live in the jungle like Tarzan, just by myself, I wouldn't hear anything. Probably I would be in balance with my natural surroundings. But once we aggravate ourselves in communities and societies, then we are impacting a much greater grade of natural balances and the dynamics of nature, in such a way that it could be very bad for nature, good for humans, but in the short term. When we bring up the adjective of sustainability, It means that we have to be aware of that relationship between human beings and nature so that we can extend those benefits, not only for our generations but for the ones to come.
SFC Markets and Finance: Okay, so you mentioned that if we live in the community, we have to make policies of people-oriented. So are there any examples of people-oriented policies you can give us?
Edgar E Gutierreze-Espeleta: It might not sound nice to talk about my own country, Costa Rica. In 1949, Costa Rica had a civil war. And then things changed. We had a new Political Constitution, a national constitution. And since then, in that constitution, Costa Rica decided to invest in human beings, not in accumulating capital, but invested in human beings. So humans were at the center of the big program of the development of Costa Rica. So the country as a big thing, as a state, started developing those things that humans need the most: health, electricity, the basic things that our society needs in the direction of the well-being. On the other side, for example, if we would have targeted to accumulate more capital, then human is in the second place, not in the first place. So the whole run, the whole journey will see how we can accumulate more and more capital. That's the growth paradigm, grow and grow, which is unsustainable. But investing in humans and knowing what the needs of these humans are, and plan the development of a country according to the needs, then the disorder is different. So we are going to be able to actually show that it is possible. That paradigm that some people have said that development is against conservation, that's untrue. I mean, that's not true at all. We have proven that Costa Rica is an example of how we could achieve certain levels of well-being without hurting the natural system.
SFC Markets and Finance: Okay, so, as you said, the maintaining growth patterns, they need to be changed. Then, we can find a solution to all the severe climate problems nowadays. So for other developing countries throughout the whole world, have you gotten any examples that are already produced about the redesigned new patterns? can you show us?
Edgar E Gutierreze-Espeleta: Well, I think growth cannot be forever. Since 1972, we were able to read this book, The Limit to Growth that actually pointed out that the planet has its own limits, and that we cannot grow at the rate we are growing. And yes, of course, we need a change in paradigm. That paradigm of growth is not friendly to the environment. And I think nowadays, we could say that we are seeing some sort of signs here and there, that countries are changing. Some countries are changing. For example, your own country, China. China is leading towards renewable energies. China is investing quite a bit of money in rehabilitating degraded lands and trying to recover land from deserts. China is cleaning up water sources. And China has been able to overcome that terrible poverty. While many countries in the world still have the poverty. It's an example of doing things in the right direction. And of course, China is perhaps one of the two major CO2 emitters of the world. But China said, well, we are going to be doing like that until 2030 or something, and after that we are going to be declining our CO2 emissions. So that's a commitment of our country towards sustainable development. I think those are very good signals that China is walking on the right track.
SFC Markets and Finance: Since we have talked about China and about what it has done recently. Do you have any suggestions for my country, China, in the future, for what it can do in the future to maintain sustainable development?
Edgar E Gutierreze-Espeleta: I think China could become a very important partner for many countries. Let me tell you a story. Rich countries are rich, because poor countries exist, right? And why do poor countries exist? Because rich countries went to poor countries to extract raw materials. And then we have a set of many countries in the world, they are poor, or we are calling them developing countries now, right? So we have a set of developing countries, that for many years, have been exporting raw materials to developed countries and developed countries process raw materials, aggregate value, and then sell back products to the developing countries at a very high price. That's unfair. I think China could be a good partner. Through China, developing countries can learn how to aggregate value to their own raw materials, and to benefit their own people, and to increase the well-being of them. So I think in some instances, perhaps China is doing that. But I think China could do that a little bit more than that in the future.
記者：特約記者肖玥 李依農 見習記者楊雨萊 見習記者謝鴻州
新媒體統籌：丁青云 曾婷芳 賴禧 黃達迅